Weather rambling — Mother Nature’s memory

Maury Thompson
3 min readAug 6, 2022

It was as if Mother Nature had a good memory, or, perhaps, had consulted a competent almanack, in advance of the Civil War reunion at Glens Falls.

“Twenty-five years ago, the fifth of this month, it rained at night, and on the following day, when the Twenty-Second regiment came marching home, the dust had been laid, the sky was clear, and the weather conspired to make the occasion a success,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on Aug. 9, 1888. “Last night, on the eve of the first annual reunion of the Twenty-Second, came another rain storm to wash Nature’s face, as it were, and put her in presentable condition for the boys.”

The rain was a welcome break in the early summer drought that had extended into August, before turning milder and then snowing in higher elevations.

“August gave us a variety of weather,” The Granville Sentinel reported on Sept. 7. “Two days the thermometer ran up to 94 degrees and from that down to as low as 56 degrees. There were eleven days on which rain fell and twelve that were entirely clear.”

Evidence of drought in the early part of the month can be gleaned from the scarcity of a low-lying berry commonly found at high elevations.

“There are no whortleberries (also known as huckleberries or bilberries) to be found on the mountains this season,” the Johnsburg correspondent reported in The Morning Star on Aug. 3.

At Stony Creek: “Work at the tannery is nearly at a standstill on account of low water.”

At Lake George it was 90 degrees in the shade.

By mid-August, continued rain was sufficient to resume industry.

“Water is again flowing over the dam, and the saw mills begin to assume their old-time activity,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 14.

“The water in the river rose several inches yesterday, and logs were running over the dam,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 15.

“Farmers have about all finished up their haying in this vicinity and are ready to go fishing,” the Hampton correspondent reported in the Sentinel on Aug. 17.

“Haying and harvesting are generally finished in this vicinity,” the East Salem correspondent reported. “Hay was above an average crop. Oats were short but well filled. … Rye was good and harvested in fine conditions. Apples will be plenty.”

The month that opened in drought would turn to another extreme.

On Aug. 22, it snowed at North Creek and there was heavy frost at Ferguson Hollow in Luzerne and Stony Creek.

“The mercury in the thermometer last night indicated regular November temperature, and it was predicted that this morning would disclose frost on the lowlands,” The Morning Star reported on Aug.23.

The weather put a damper on Lake George tourism.

“The cold weather is having the effect of driving many summer-resort guests back to their homes,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 29. “The departures just now from Lake George are far in excess of the arrivals.”

It was not too cool for racing at Saratoga.

“The weather was all that could be desired yesterday,” The Morning Star reported on Aug.29. “The Saratoga track fine, and the contests exciting.”

August of 1887 also had some cold weather.

“Winter flannels and overcoats were not burdensome last night, except to those who walked about briskly or engaged in vigorous exercise of some kind,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 8.

“Some of our citizens built wood fires last night and the night before to dispel the chilly atmosphere in their sitting rooms,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 9.

August of 1883 also had some cold weather.

“Another taste of winter weather yesterday,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 14.

“Winter gave us a taste of what it will be when it touched us with its icy fingers yesterday,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 15. “It is noticeable that observations show a cold spell usually prevails in this latitude about November 12th.”

Canal men perceived the snow as an omen of an early end to the transportation season.

“Boatmen look upon the recent change in weather as indicating an early victory for Jack Frost over the waterways of the state,” The Morning Star reported on Aug. 15.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY